You’ll want to read the first four entries in this series first, beginning with Part 1.
One of the biggest questions on most people’s minds is: “How much water do I need to store?”
The answer: How much room have you got?
That may sound flippant, but the reality is that you can’t store more water than you sensibly have room for. Practically no one, after all, can store up a year’s supply of water. Thankfully, you shouldn’t need that much at hand. Besides, if all fresh water on earth disappeared for a year, everyone around you would be dead, even if you did have a year’s supply of your own.
What you’re looking to do is have enough clean water on hand for a few days in order to provide for a situation where fresh, clean water may suddenly become unavailable. If your stored supply runs out, there will probably be some water around, but it might just be filthy and have to be boiled, filtered, and purified. The reason you’re storing some fresh water now is in order to avoid or postpone that eventuality.
Not counting bathing, the average person will require about two gallons of water a day, both for drinking and for reconstituting your stored food. The government suggests you have enough clean water on hand in case of a disaster to last each person in your family for three days.
But I don’t take much stock in what the government says. So, I say you ought to have enough to last you for a week to ten days, if at all possible. At least a good five days’ worth, if you can.
I say “if you can,” because it all comes down again to how much room you have to store your water. Remember, there’s that little problem of accessibility. You must be able to get at it easily.
You may be able to store your cases of dehydrated food in a far off corner somewhere, but you’d better keep your water close enough to get to. Since you have to change it out every six months, you want it to be accessible, not stashed behind a bunch of other stuff where you can’t get at it. Besides, it would be helpful in an emergency if you kept some water handy so that you could just grab one or two containers and throw them in the car and leave if you have to.
So, where to put that water?
You don’t want your stores of water getting too hot, so the garage is out. It gets way too hot there in the summer. Also, you want to keep your water away from any sunlight, so don’t put it against the wall under a window.
If you have a basement, you’ve got it made; that’s the best place right there. Just make sure you don’t bury your water supply way in the back behind your cases of canned food. You’ll want to keep your water in front where you can get to it. If you can keep your food and water stores on a pallet, that is all the better in case your basement floods. If you’re putting your containers on a concrete floor, at least put cardboard underneath them. Some plastic can absorb odors from the chemicals in concrete.
Naturally, you want to make sure you’re not storing your water near gasoline or solvents. Vapors from petroleum distillates will permeate plastic, and even though most BPA free containers are thick, your water can absorb certain “flavors” right through them.
If you have a crawl space under your house that’s tall enough to fit your containers, that works too; the temperatures are usually okay under most houses year round.
If you think the water might freeze under your house in the winter, open the cap and pour two or three inches of water out so the freezing water has room to expand and doesn’t burst the container. Also, if you put your water under the house, don’t just forget about it down there. You’ll still need to crawl back under there to change the water out in six months or so. While you’re doing that, you can check the containers for signs of strain. (My wife says to warn you to watch out for spiders while you’re under there, too.)
Since Connie and I now live in an apartment, we only have room to keep eight containers of water, but that should be plenty enough for the two of us. I try to to keep my water off any carpeted area, simply because I once knocked a container over that didn’t have the lid on tight enough, and I always seem to have books and papers lying around on the floor.
Remember that even a quality container can spring a leak if someone is using a sharp object near it. If you stack any containers on carpeting, it’s a good idea to check on them now and then to make sure they’re doing okay and that the one on the bottom isn’t looking too squished. I would be a bit hesitant to stack my Aqua-Tainers more than two high in a carpeted area, three high anywhere else.
Since we moved into this apartment, Connie and I have had to become adept at storing our food and water in every nook and cranny (I’ll tell you some of our secrets in future posts). I keep four Aqua-Tainers under the kitchen table, and two more stacked in a closet under the staircase. I also have two of the 6 gallon Desert Patrol containers close enough to the door to grab and go.
The kitchen may not seem like the most aesthetically pleasing place to keep big blue jugs of water, but it’s the only place other than our bathroom that has linoleum. Besides, I believe we’re living in such times that interior decorating should be the least of our concerns. Having your necessities at hand should be priority number one, even if that means your food storage is stacked in the living room—which some of mine is.
Next: Five-Year Water Storage